Agrigento - In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - CycleBlaze

April 4, 2019

Agrigento

We could fairly credit one mile of biking today for our short ride to the bus station in Marsala and from the Agrigento station to our new B&B.  Very little distance was involved, but the biking was stressful enough that it feels like we might as well take the credit.  Not much need for a ride report though, other than to reemphasize how unappealing biking in Marsala is - I’m surprised to say that I felt safer in Taichung.  There, at least it’s common to see bikes and scooters, so people are expecting and watching out for them.  In Marsala it felt like we were fair game.  Yesterday is the closest I’ve come to being doored in quite some time.

Even though we’re crediting ourselves with a mile of biking, I don’t think I’ll bother with putting up a map.  If you find yourself in Marsala and need to find the bus station though, check with us and we’ll help you out.

So, nothing else to say about today’s ride.  Instead, let’s first spend a few minutes more looking at yesterday, picking up with where we were so rudely cut off by the WiFi failure at our previous lodging.  We’ll start with a few more photos from yesterday’s ride, just because we loved it so much.

Hard to get enough of country like this.
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I think the reddish purple band is the vetch-like plant we saw a few days back.
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When I first saw this scene, I thought the white band in the distance was an outcrop until I zoomed in and saw all the heads.
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OK, enough of this already.
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Another angle on the entrance to Marsala through the Garibaldi Gate.
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As we said yesterday, we enjoyed an excellent dinner at a small restaurant immediately across the street from our room: Taverna 48 (a quirky aside: when I looked up the name of the restaurant just now, it has  48 reviews, with an average rating of 4.8).  Everything about this place was great, including the staff.  Our server brought a choice of two bottles of wine, a Syrah and a Nero d’Avola, and opened both of them so we could choose - he said he liked them both himself, so he’d just drink the other one.  At the end of the meal he brought out two bottles of Marsala, one sweet and the other not, and again gave us a choice for our complimentary liquor.  If we weren’t sure which we wanted, he cheerfully offered to mix them for us.

So the staff were great, as was the simple decor - including quotations on the wall by Baudelaire and GB Shaw.  And the meal itself was as it looks below - interesting and delicious.  We walked out disappointed only in that we hadn’t seen this place the night before so that we could have eaten there twice.

Taverna 48: eat here.
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We’re Americans, so of course we’re the first to arrive.
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“All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening.”
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We shared two appetizers - swordfish caponata, and this mixed plate that includes arancini, eggplant, caponata, potato surprise, bacon whatever, and artichoke or sunchoke.
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I had a delicious pasta dish (busiate, the local specialty), but Rachael’s bacon-wrapped chicken involtini with scamorza cheese was more photogenic.
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It was raining when we walked upstairs to breakfast this morning.  We noted with amusement that the slick tile staircase was even slicker because the ceiling above was open to the sky and the stairs were soaked. By the time we biked to the bus stop though, the rain had stopped.  It remained dry all the way to Agrigento, and as we drove through the beautiful green countryside I gradually came to believe we had made a mistake by taking the bus.  We would undoubtedly have arrived in Sciacca (our original plan for the day) well chilled after biking into a strong headwind for 55 miles, but it looked manageable.  It caused me to wonder how often we’re hampered by having too much information available - in the old days, we would have just started biking as soon as the rain stopped and hoped for the best.

In case you need to take the bus along the coast here, Lamia runs three times daily between Marsala and Agrigento, with stops along the way at Castelvetrano, Sciacca, and Porto Empedocle. The fare for the full distance is 10 euros, with bikes charged as an extra full fare. Just show up in time and be ready to board, because the stop is very brief. And Rachael would strongly recommend planning ahead, as there is no toilet on board.
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On the Agrigento bus, scene 1. Racing past scenes like this on a bus just isn’t thrilling in the same way biking past them would be, but it’s still pretty impressive.
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On the Agrigento bus, scene 2.
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On the Agrigento bus, scene 3.
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In the old days, we would have started biking as soon as the rain stopped, hoping for the best.  We’d have gotten perhaps 30 miles in the next three hours, battling hard into a strong, steady headwind.  We’d be cold and tired, but dry.  In the fourth hour though, it started raining and has continued to rain rather heavily all afternoon.  In the old days, we would have bikes the next 25 miles in the rain and ended the day completely miserable and possibly sick.

Instead, we’re doing great!  We’re in a lovely B&B in Agrigento high up on the 12th floor, with an awesome view of the old city and the plain below with Agrigento’s famous ancient ruins, sitting inside cozy warm and dry as the rain pours and the wind howls.  If the weather dries out a bit we’ll walk out to see the cathedral; otherwise we’ll keep cozy until the dinner hour.  Brilliant.

Chatting with our delightful hosts, Chiara and her boyfriend whose name we didn’t get.
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Old Agrigento, from the balcony of our room. Note the color of the sky, which will steadily grow darker for the next few hours. With a 25+ mph headwind, this doesn’t feel like biking day to me.
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Another view from our balcony. Off to the right is the edge of the Valley of the Temples, which we’ll hopefully visit the day after tomorrow.
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Zooming in on the Temple of Concordia, from the breakfast area of our B&B.
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Scenes we like to see - snug and warm inside on a foul day.
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Here’s a less attractive way to spend the day. This is a live shot from the website for the Giro di Sicilia, one of the early tours on the pro circuit. These poor guys are on a 236 km ride from Cape Orlando to Palermo today. Tomorrow’s stage looks even worse - a diagonal across the mountainous interior, in weather about like today’s.
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An update on the weather. It’s time for dinner, and it’s totally socked in. Hope we don’t get lost in the fog!
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Today's ride: 1 mile (2 km)
Total: 222 miles (357 km)

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